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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Schneiderman prods Trump administration on drug treatment

All WNY News     Saturday, April 22, 2017    

STAFF REPORTS
news@allwnynews.com



NEW YORK -- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman joined a coalition of 20 Attorneys General in opposing the Trump Administration's efforts to scale back funding for drug use prevention and addiction treatment originally included in the Affordable Care Act ("ACA"). In a letter addressed to President Trump, Leader McConnell, and Speaker Ryan, the state Attorneys General urged the President and members of Congress to adequately fund drug treatment in their upcoming proposal to replace the ACA.

Read the full letter here.

While the initial ACA replacement plan would have cut federal funding for drug treatment by an estimated $5.5 billion, moving to a "block grant" or any form of "capitated rate" for Medicaid would further jeopardize $7.9 billion in treatment funding, which represents 25% of all funding for drug treatment.

"New Yorkers and families across the country have seen the devastating impact of drug addiction first hand – and they're depending on their government to help. That includes developing a comprehensive strategy to address the soaring number of overdose deaths in our communities and make lifesaving treatments accessible to those suffering from addiction," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "I am proud to stand with my fellow Attorneys General in urging President Trump to ensure New Yorkers and Americans struggling with addiction get the vital treatment they need."

The ACA currently allows significant and critical assistance for drug treatment, providing coverage to an additional 2.8 million Americans suffering from addiction. It also requires both private plans and Medicaid to cover certain drug treatment.

The state AGs argue this provision is essential in their fight against the growing drug epidemic, which many view as one of the greatest challenges facing their communities – several of which are still recovering from the flood of addictive pain pills and surge in drugs like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil over the past few years.

"In the midst of an ongoing public health crisis, the federal government cannot abandon this commitment to our communities," the group stated in its letter. "Our nation faces a drug epidemic that grows more difficult and dangerous by the hour. These drugs are causing record numbers of overdoses and are destabilizing whole communities."

The group says the loss of any form of coverage for 24 million Americans under the draft plan undoubtedly will leave many Americans suffering from addiction with no means of securing or paying for treatment.

"We urge you to protect access to substance use treatment and maintain our partnership and necessary levels of federal funding as we work to tackle this deadly and destructive epidemic," the groups said.

The letter was signed by the following Attorneys General: Kentucky, New Mexico, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Virginia, Mississippi, Rhode Island, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Oregon, New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Washington and the District of Columbia.

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